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PC Harper trial: Officer describes moment he realised ‘bloody mess’ was colleague | UK News

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A police officer has described the moment he realised a “bloody mess” being dragged behind a car was his colleague PC Andrew Harper.

PC Christopher Bushnell gave chase after coming across a Seat Toledo dragging an object behind it near the A4 in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, on the evening of 15 August last year.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS DETAILS SOME MAY FIND UPSETTING

Shortly before, PC Harper – unknown to his colleague – had become entangled in a tow rope attached to the Seat’s boot as he tried to stop quad bike thieves.

(L to R) Henry Long, 19, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, have denied murdering PC Andrew Harper
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(L to R) Henry Long, 19, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, have denied murdering PC Andrew Harper

The 28-year-old officer would have been knocked unconscious as he was pulled for just over a mile along country lanes, the Old Bailey heard.

He suffered catastrophic injuries and was pronounced dead in the road after he became detached.

PC Bushnell described the moment he saw the car as he gave evidence to the court on Friday.

“My eye was drawn away from the vehicle to what was behind it,” he told jurors.

“I could not process what I was seeing, perhaps a trailer. However it was not moving much, as a trailer would. I did not know what it was.

“I peered in the dark to see what was behind it. I could see whatever it was was swinging from left to right across the road behind the car.

Screengrab taken from video dated 15/08/19 issued by Thames Valley Police of a quad bike which was attached to a Seat car which was stopped by Pc Andrew Harper and Pc Andrew Shaw whilst responding to a burglary in progress near Stanford Dingley in Berkshire. The dash-cam footage is taken from the vehicle in which PC Andrew Harper was travelling on the night of his death, which has been shown to the jury at the Old Bailey, London, during the trial of Henry Long and two teenagers who cannot be nam
Image:
PC Andrew Harper had attempted to stop quad bike thieves

“I said to myself ‘what the f*** is that, what the f***, what the absolute f***’ because I could not initially make out what it was.

“As I got closer, 50 metres away, I came to the conclusion it was a deer carcass, because it was a bloody mess.

“I lost sight of it for a few seconds and then I saw it again about 30 metres in front of me.”

When he put on his blue lights, the car began to accelerate away.

He said: “At this exact moment, all of a sudden I saw a flailing head, as if he was doing backstroke.”

The officer said he could only make out a face “because of the teeth”.

Screengrab taken from video dated 15/08/19 issued by Thames Valley Police of a man attempting to get into a Seat car after it was stopped by Pc Andrew Harper and Pc Andrew Shaw who were responding to a burglary in progress near Stanford Dingley in Berkshire. The dash-cam footage is taken from the vehicle in which PC Andrew Harper was travelling on the night of his death, which has been shown to the jury at the Old Bailey, London, during the trial of Henry Long and two teenagers who cannot be nam
Image:
A man gets into the Seat after it was stopped by PC Andrew Harper and PC Andrew Shaw

He radioed in to say there was a body in the road and gave chase with blue lights on.

Pausing at a fork in the road as he tried to “second guess” where the car had gone, he then saw it coming back down the hill towards him.

“Without warning it came straight towards me. There were no lights on the vehicle, it was just black,” he said.

PC Bushnell swerved to the left to avoid being hit and said he believed “they had deliberately chosen to drive straight at me”.

A police helicopter later found the Seat at a nearby travellers’ site.

PC Harper's body detached from the ropes on the Seat and was pronounced dead at the scene in Berkshire
Image:
PC Harper was pronounced dead at the scene in Berkshire

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC said there was no pathological evidence to suggest PC Bushnell’s vehicle had accidentally hit PC Harper during the pursuit.

“It was an extremely traumatic event for you. Your duty that night was brought to an end for obvious reasons,” he said.

The driver, Henry Long, 19, and his passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, from Reading, have denied murder.

They have admitted conspiracy to steal the quad bike and Long has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The original trial of the three men, who all deny murder, had to be stopped earlier this year after some jurors had to self-isolate amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The retrial opened on Tuesday and continues.

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